Tag Archives: endangered languages

154

Help make a difference with the gift of education

Become a Premium Member in December and busuu.com will sponsor a week of school for a child in Cameroon

Boost your learning and someone else’s at the same time!

For every Premium Membership bought between 1-31 December 2012, we will make a donation to the  Cameroon Association for the Protection and Education of the Child (CAPEC). CAPEC will use the funds to provide school access to children.

All you have to do is upgrade  – there is no extra charge. Upgrade now and help make a difference!

Together, we can do more!

We have also created a special Facebook app to help you easily tell your friends about our campaign. By subscribing, they will benefit from the busuu.com learning experience and help provide education to those who need it. Tell your friends!

Why have we chosen CAPEC? Our name comes from Busuu, which is an endangered language spoken by fewer than eight people in Cameroon. That’s why we decided to help a charity that supports children in the region. CAPEC is one of Cameroon’s leading child welfare organisations and we have been supporting it since 2009. CAPEC’s aim is to help children by giving them opportunities for a better life.

So why not  upgrade now to improve your own language-learning progress with our award-winning Premium tools and help to boost opportunities through education in Africa too?

150

Get ready for Halloween 2012!

While Halloween, or All Saint’s Eve, is most popular in America, countries around the world are now beginning to adopt this holiday too.

Halloween

If you are planning to attend, or even host a Halloween party, you should make sure you know the most common words related to this holiday. Halloween words borrow from many different languages. Today, these words are used in countries all around the world.

Do you know where some of these words come from?

Let’s take a look at the most common ones:

HALLOWEEN

Halloween is a condensed form of the phrase All Hallow Even, i.e. All Saints’ Eve. Hallow means “holy”, so Halloween is the Eve of All Hallows, i.e. all saints. Hallow and Halloween derive from the Old English adjective halig (holy).

PUMPKIN

Pumpkin derives from the Greek pepon, a kind of melon eaten only when very ripe. The word root is very interesting: Latin took over pepon as pepo, then French produced popon/pompon, then pumpion, and finally pumpkin.

BROOM

There is no witch in town that would make a Halloween appearance without a broom. The word derives from a Germanic plant name that appears as bramo, bramma and bramio in various Germanic languages. So a broom essentially bears the Germanic name of the twig plant.

COFFIN

This word appears in various languages. In Greek it’s kophinus (a basket), in Latin cophinus and French cofin. Initially, the word meant ‘box’ but in the 16th century it took on two meanings, one of which is the dreaded coffin.

GHOST

In traditional belief and fiction, a ghost is the soul or spirit of a deceased person or animal that appears to the living. However, Halloween ghosts will be disappointed to know that their linguistic ancestors where neither scary nor vengeful. In Old English, ghost simply meant “spirit”, a meaning preserved when we refer to the Holy Ghost.

To get you in the right mood for Halloween, here are the top 10 Halloween songs of all time.

To learn more words related to this fantastic holiday, complete our fun Halloween exercise on busuu.com

 

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15% discount and motivational tips for language learning

The holidays are almost over and this is the perfect time for brushing up on your language skills to get ahead with schoolwork or make your CV stand out!

To motivate you, we are offering a back-to-school promotion – enjoy a 15% discount on all our products until 15 September 2012!

discount motivation

 

To get you in the mood, here are our busuu.com top 10 motivational tips!

  1. Set a goal – With My Goal your progress is monitored and you will receive personalised messages to give you a motivational boost when you need it most!
  2. Do a busuu Challenge – Motivate yourself and your friends to continue learning and challenge each other to finish 3 learning units within 24 hours.
  3. Be creative – Describe our daily updated pictures from National Geographic and discuss them with native speakers.
  4. Learn by playing – Check out the memory game on busuu.com and play by yourself or with others!
  5. Talk to native speakers – In the busuu-talk you’ll find lots of people who will help you achieve fluency in the language you are learning!
  6. Watch a video unit - Pick out an interesting topic and write a review about it. Your desire to express your opinion will give you extra motivation!
  7. Have a ‘foreign language’ day – Immerse yourself in the culture of the language you are learning: watch a foreign movie in the original language, listen to songs, or cook a typical foreign meal.
  8. Share your progress – Have you just set a goal or finished a learning unit? Be proud of your achievement and share it with your friends on Facebook or Twitter.
  9. Be brave – Everybody makes mistakes when learning a foreign language, so help out others by correcting their posts. They will do the same for you!

…and the best motivation to kick-start your language learning again:

  1. Our 15%-back-to-school discount! Take advantage of the 15% discount and become Premium Premium crown now!

It’s easy to apply the discount:

  1. Go to the order page.
  2. Choose the product you would like to buy.
  3. Copy and paste the code SEP2012 into the relevant box.

With our Premium MembershipPremium Member and our motivational tips you will get the most out of your busuu.com learning experience! Only until 15 September 2012!

Did we miss a motivational tip? Just add your own tips to our list!

 

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Istriot, a language as beautiful as the Adriatic coast

Welcome back to our blog for endangered languages!

As promised, we are continuing our blog series on endangered languages, and this week we’re presenting Istriot!

When we refer to Istriot we don’t just mean the beautiful region that extends from Venice over to Croatia, we also refer to the Istriotic language, that for a long time was considered as a Venetian dialect. Today we know that Istriot is an indigenous Romance language, dating from as far back as pre-Venetian time, and that it was spoken on the Istrian peninsula.

It is ranked by the UNESCO as ‘severely endangered’. According to the 2002 census, only 400 people speak the language today.

Istriot

Istriot is suffering from a big crisis. Once spoken in the whole northern region of the Adriatic coast, now there remain only a few villages in which this language is spoken or understood: in Rovinj (it. Rovigno), Vodnjan (Vodnjan), Bale (Valle), Fažana (Fasana), Galižana (Gallesano) and Šišan (Sissano). It has gone from being an actively used language to one which is struggling to survive. The problem is that young people whose mother tongue is Istriot are choosing to use Croatian in conversation, even when they talk to their relatives. This is happening despite the fact that many of them were born and raised bilingual and it is the reason why the language is not being passed on to future generations.

Surrounded by two strong languages, Italian and Croatian, Istriot doesn’t have a leg to stand on and is at risk of vanishing in just a few generations. Influences from the two neighbour languages, Croatian and Italian, are very strong on all linguistic levels from pronunciation to the use of words.

To give you a feel for Istriot and its similarity to Italian, we have selected this abstract of a poem by an anonymous writer from Rovinnj, who signed it with his pen name Andria Uòrgani (1843). The name of the poem is “Il mendicante d’amore” – the beggar for love.

Istriot Italian English Translation
Se biella ti me pari
cù ti rèidi
Biella ti son
quando ti pjuri

ancuura,

Cù ti trùvi baròufa,
cù ti crèidi,
Chi ca te vjdo dòuti
se ‘namura.
Se bella tu mi appari
quando ridi
Bella tu sei anche
quando piangi,
Quando cerchi baruffa,
quando gridi,
Chiunque ti vede
di te s’innamora.
Every time you laugh
you are beautiful
You are pretty
even when you cry,
When you want to have a row,
when you scream
Whoever sees you,
falls in love with you.

Many Istriot speakers consider themselves to be Italian and don’t know that what they speak is an indigenous Romance language, not a Venetian dialect. Linguists fear that Istriot is going to become extinct in the near future. Nowadays it is very hard to find Istriot speakers in the villages mentioned above but the place were it is best conserved is Bale.

In hope of avoiding the disappearance of their mother tongue, some artists have begun to create works in their language, for example Istrian songs and literature. We recommend you the Croatian musician Tamara Obrovac, who has launched a project for the revitalisation of the Istriot language. Here is a video of her song ‘Se me ra morta privari’, enjoy:

109

The Language Archive opens in Berlin

Great news for all language fans out there: This month, the Max Planck Institute has opened The Language Archive in Berlin, one of the largest linguistic archives in the world! We wish all the best to The Archive on its inauguration and we are looking forward to seeing the development of this new space for language research.

Storing information about endangered languages online is an excellent way to keep a record of their pronunciation. The special units Busuu and Silbo Gomero on busuu.com are further examples of how you can get a taste of exotic and endangered languages that you are unlikely to experience when travelling abroad. With the audio files you can try out the language for yourself, and perfect your pronunciation! You may not be likely to use it in real life, but it is certainly great fun!

      

The Language ArchiveBy creating a space for research and the conservation of languages, The Language Archive also provides an account of the cultures, people and history that the language embraces. This valuable cultural heritage is now preserved for current and future generations of researchers who log in to the database.

Storing already 80 Terabytes (written out that’s 80,000,000,000,000 bytes!!!) worth of data from over 200 languages, The Language Archive plans to further extend its collection in the future.

Languages constantly change, cease and disappear. As stated in our blog entry on the European Day of Languages, 50% of the 6,000 to 7,000 existing ones are likely to become extinct by the end of this century. However, as we have seen in this blog entry, this does not mean that they will be forgotten!

Are you ready to get out there and discover some extraordinary languages for yourself? Try out our special learning units for Busuu and Silbo Gomero – a whole new way to test your foreign language skills!